Malik Boyd

AFC East Notes: Jets, Newton, Bills

Although several veterans made a point to skip OTAs this year, Jamison Crowder is away from his team because of a contract issue. The Jets want their leading receiver of the past two seasons to accept a pay cut. Robert Saleh said the veteran slot receiver “definitely” has a role on the 2021 Jets, but SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano notes the pay reduction the Jets have in mind is “significant.” It would be interesting to see what the Jets do if Crowder balks, given their salary cap space (third-most in the NFL) and his potential value in helping Zach Wilson as a rookie. The 27-year-old wideout is due a $10MM base salary this season, which is the final year of his contract. GM Joe Douglas was not around when Crowder signed with the Jets, and the team used a second-round pick on presumptive Crowder slot successor Elijah Moore. The Ole Miss product stands to cut into Crowder’s workload this season, Vacchiano adds, so the Jets would appear to be comfortable moving on.

Crowder may end up hitting free agency at an inopportune time, should he not approve the team’s pay-cut request. If the Jets release Crowder, they would not incur any dead money. Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • The hand injury Cam Newton suffered will end up impacting his offseason status. The Patriots quarterback is expected to miss time, Jeff Howe of The Athletic tweets. Given Newton’s extensive injury history, this would be notable even without Mac Jones‘ presence. But the prospect of Jones going through the rest of OTAs and minicamp with Newton sidelined figures to impact the Pats’ quarterback competition. New England’s minicamp is scheduled to run from June 14-16.
  • Staying on the quarterback subject, the Jets may need to consider an addition. Wilson’s two backups — 2020 fourth-round pick James Morgan and former UDFA Mike White — are not ready for a QB2 role, Connor Hughes of The Athletic writes (subscription required). The Jets, in Hughes’ view, need to acquire Nick Foles from the Bears. Douglas was with the Eagles during Foles’ memorable second Philadelphia stint, and Foles has become a nonfactor in Chicago. The Jets, however, are not planning any additional costly moves this year; Foles comes with an $8MM price tag. Foles-Jets buzz began brewing shortly after the Bears’ Justin Fields pick, however, and may continue if Morgan and White prove unqualified at Gang Green’s minicamp.
  • The Bills will rely on a group effort to replace Dan Morgan, who left his VP of player personnel gig in Buffalo to become Carolina’s assistant GM. Terrance Gray, Malik Boyd and ex-Texans GM Brian Gaine will split Morgan’s duties, according to Brandon Beane (via Maddy Glab of BuffaloBills.com). The Bills interviewed both Gray and Boyd and promoted each. Gray will rise from college scouting director to assistant director of player personnel; Boyd will shift from pro personnel director to senior director of pro scouting. Gaine remains in his senior personnel advisor role. Boyd interviewed for the Texans’ GM job earlier this year.
  • Buffalo also hired Princeton quality control coach Sophia Lewin as an offensive assistant, according to NFL senior director of diversity, equity and inclusion Sam Rapoport (Twitter link). Lewin and Andrea Gosper, who will rise from Bills scouting intern to player personnel coordinator for the team, caught on with the Bills through the NFL’s Women’s Careers in Football Forum.

2021 NFL General Manager Search Tracker

This year’s NFL GM carousel figures to be more active than usual. The Falcons, Lions, Panthers, Texans, and Jaguars are all on the hunt for a new front office leader. And that’s only the official list. The real tally shows six clubs looking for a GM, since the Washington Football Team is expected to install a GM to work alongside head coach Ron Rivera. By mid-January, we could easily see a couple more jobs opening up — that’d put ~25% of the NFL on the market.

We’ll keep track of the GM candidates for each club here, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make general manager changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here’s the current breakdown:

Updated 1-19-21 (7:02pm CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers 

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Washington Football Team

Texans To Interview Malik Boyd For GM Job

The Texans are set to interview Bills pro scouting director Malik Boyd for their GM vacancy, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. There’s been significant buzz around Boyd in this cycle and the Houston native could be on the verge of a homecoming.

Boyd began his scouting career with the Colts before joining up with the Cardinals in 2005. After 12 years in Arizona, he moved on to Buffalo in 2017. The Texans have been eyeing a GM who could help them get the best of both worlds — analytics and game film — and Boyd would fit the bill. Before his exec career, Boyd spent some time as a defensive back for the Vikings and Saints.

The Texans have already interviewed ESPN analyst/ex-Eagles exec Louis Riddick and their own director of player personnel Matt Bazirgan for the job. They’re also in the midst of their head coaching search, though they’re expected to make the GM decision first.

 

Extra Points: Coaches, GMs, Schedule, OTAs

After the NFL expanded the Rooney Rule this offseason, it has a “ready list” of minority candidates for head coaching jobs, offensive and defensive coordinator positions and GM candidates, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. Beyond some of the big names — Eric Bieniemy, Marvin Lewis, Todd Bowles, Leslie Frazier among them — coaches like Clemson OC Tony Elliott, Penn State HC James Franklin and Michigan State HC Mel Tucker appear on the HC portion of the list. On the GM side, some first-time candidates include Bills pro scouting director Malik Boyd, Raiders pro scouting director Dwayne Joseph, Ravens exec Vincent Newsome and Chargers player personnel director JoJo Wooden. Former Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson — now the franchise’s pro scouting director — also appears on the GM portion of the list. The Rooney Rule now mandates teams interview two minority HC candidates and expanded the rule to include coordinator positions. Franchises must also open their senior-level executive jobs to minority and female candidates.

Here is the latest from around the league:

  • Normal NFL offseasons feature several weeks’ worth of OTAs preceding a June minicamp, but the NFLPA would like a schedule that looks closer to this year’s virtual offseason. Union executive director DeMaurice Smith said “there is absolutely no reason” for the NFL to return to full-scale OTAs, per Sports Business Daily’s Ben Fischer (subscription required). Having seen no decline in performance after this atypical offseason, union president J.C. Tretter agrees with Smith. This would be a stretch for coaching staffs, which have steadily seen their time with players cut back. The past two CBA agreements have significantly limited offseason and padded training camp workouts, and 2020’s COVID-19-altered offseason created steeper acclimation challenges for young players.
  • The NFL has agreed to a formula for its 17th regular-season game, making it increasingly likely this season will be the last one of the 16-game era. In what will be the first shift to the league’s scheduling setup since 2002, the 17-game schedule will feature a fifth interconference game. The schedule will pit an AFC division winner against an NFC division winner, and on down the line within each division, but the extra interconference game will not feature two teams who played the previous year, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. In the event the NFL moves to the 17-game season in 2021, the Chiefs and Buccaneers could not play again next season; the earliest such a regular-season rematch would occur would be 2022.
  • Roger Goodell may well be on board with shortening the preseason slate from four games to two. The commissioner “seemed in favor” of halving the preseason schedule at last week’s owners meetings, according to ESPN.com’s Seth Wickersham, but some high-profile owners are not. Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft, John Mara and Art Rooney II dismissed the idea of going from three preseason games — the new number as of the 2020 CBA — to two, according to ESPN. No vote occurred on the matter, though Goodell discussing the idea publicly points to it remaining an issue going forward.

Extra Points: Vikes, Bills, Cardinals, Patriots

Although his house arrest doesn’t end for another month, newly-signed Vikings wide receiver Michael Floyd will report to Minnesota on Friday after having his confinement transferred from Arizona, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (Twitter links). Floyd was able to secure the transfer because of his change in employment status, but he’ll still need to return to his residence when he’s not training with the Vikings, reports Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. Floyd pleaded guilty to extreme DUI in February.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • The Bills have hired Malik Boyd as their new director of pro personnel, the club announced today. General manager Brandon Beane has worked quickly to revamp Buffalo’s front office, as he’s hired former Texans executive Brian Gaine and former Dolphins staffer Joe Schoen this week. Boyd, meanwhile, has worked for the Cardinals for the past 12 years, and spent the past three season as Arizona’s assistant director of pro scouting. He’s also spent time with the Colts, had a three-year career as an NFL defensive back.
  • In addition to carrying the sickle cell trait, Cardinals wide receiver John Brown was also dealing with a cyst on his spine in 2016, according to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com. Brown has since had the cyst drained, and now says he feels “normal” again, per Weinfuss. Brown, 27, posted the worst season of his three-year career in 2016, as he managed only 39 receptions for 517 yards and two touchdowns. With Floyd now out of the picture, Brown figures to slide into Arizona’s starting lineup full-time, and with his health concerns hopefully behind him, could come closer to his 2015 production (1,000+ yards receiving and seven scores). Brown is slated to earn $1.797MM in 2017 before becoming an unrestricted free agent next spring.
  • The Patriots worked out wide receiver Reggie Diggs on Wednesday, a source tells Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Diggs, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Richmond in 2016, landed with Washington last year but spent the entirety of his rookie season on injured reserve. The Redskins waived Diggs earlier this month, and his visit with New England is the first known interest he’s drawn. The Patriots, of course, already have a well-stocked wide receiver depth chart, and auditioned veteran pass-catcher Andrew Hawkins earlier today.
  • The Saints signed former Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas on Monday, but Thomas probably won’t be under center in New Orleans, reports Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. Thomas was listed as a defensive back on the Saints’ roster, and could also play wide receiver, per Triplett. At the Senior Bowl, Thomas played defensive back and kick returner, and worked out as a defensive back, wideout, return man, and quarterback at his Pro Day. Thomas, who stands 5’9″, 185 pounds, ran a 40-yard dash in the 4.3-4.4 second range, so he clearly has the speed required to make a position change.